Monday, January 23, 2012

Up-cycled Jeans to Toy Storage

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My find of last week...


I've never sewn with vinyl before, but I've been wanting to since seeing an explosion of post-Christmas storage ideas in the blogosphere.

FYI: I was perhaps a tad nervous about sewing with vinyl because it sticks to the sewing machine and to itself, but I found these great tips at Make It Love It.

Anyway, I especially liked these toy bags from Sew Fearless

My first destination of the fabric store is almost always the remnant pile, and I was so excited to find vinyl there last week... but it wasn't nearly enough to make the aforementioned,
so I had to come up with another alternative. I purchased the little pieces anyway and was able to get about 1/2 yard for 50 cents.

Remember my love affair with denim from the thrift store?
I had a ton of random jean pieces left over from my Pajama Eaters.
I had used larger men's jeans to make this project for my nephews for Christmas.
It worked out perfectly, but I had some random leg pieces and, for lack of a better phrase, the "rear area" left over.

After some rainy day tinkering, measuring, sewing, more tinkering...
I've made a couple windowed hobo sacks for Ben's blocks and Lincoln Logs.
Organization! HUZZAH!
I'm thinking I have enough vinyl and jean pieces left to make at least 2 more. We'll see if I ever get there. ;)

Anywayz, let's begin...

What you'll need:
medium to heavy weight fabric for the bottoms (mine was, of course, a remnant of medium weight home decor fabric)
leftover jean pieces or some other pair of pants (you could easily get one bag out of a pair of pants and have a ton left over)
a piece of vinyl for the "window"
rope, ribbon, shoestrings, or the like for the drawstring
regular sewing implements

Step One:
Cut all of your pieces.

First, cut a 9" circle out of your medium weight fabric.
You could use some snazzy instrument...
or if you have a Corningware casserole dish like I do... use the lid. :)

Then, cut a 5"x6.5" rectangle out of the vinyl.

You'll also need 2 3"x6.5" rectangles of denim.

I used a little bit of a leg piece that I had left over.

Now for that "rear" piece to which I referred...
Iron it out as well as you can
and measure a 9"x21.5" rectangle.

You'll want to make sure that you have at least a half an inch to the left, right, top, and bottom of the pockets for the seam allowances.

Lastly, you'll need a 8"x27" piece of denim.
This is a perfect use for a leg section.

Step Two:
Sew Your "Window."

Take one piece of your 3"x6.5" denim
and sandwich it with your piece of vinyl,
lining it up longside to longside.

And sew along this longside with 1/2" seam allowance.

Serge or zigzag your edge to prevent fraying.

Unfold your pieces and sew closely to the seam like pictured.

Line up the other 3"x6.5" piece of denim to the other longside of the vinyl and repeat so you have something like this.

Step Three:
Make the body of the bag.

Place your window piece face down on one side of your "rear" piece.

Pin at the top and bottom where the denim meets with denim.

Sew along this edge with a 1/2" seam allowance.

Serge or zigzag this edge to prevent fraying.

Open piece and sew along seam.

Make a tube by meeting your window piece with the other side of the rear piece.

Pin and sew with a 1/2" seam allowance.
Serge or zigzag your edge.
Open and sew along seam.

Turn right-side out and you'll have a tube like this.

Step Four:
Mark your "centers" of the bottom circular piece and the "tube" piece.

*This step is optional, but helps me a lot when lining up the circular bottom so it doesn't gather at all.

Mark a little "tick" at the bottom and the top.

Then mark the left and the right in the middle.

*Optional- snip the edges of your circle so that it will give a little more when you go to sew it on.
Make sure not to snip past the 1/2" seam allowance.

Flatten out your "tube," centering it on your work surface and mark another tick in the center at the bottom.

Do the same for the top and the left and right.

You should now have ticks marking the front, back, and sides of your bottom.

Now, just line up your markings for the bottom piece with the tube inside out and the circular piece upside down like shown.

Pin at your marks,

and then just work your way in, pinning as you go.
You should end up with your bottom pinned nice and evenly like so.

Now sew aroung the bottom with 1/2" seam allowance.

Remove pins and serge or zigzag your edges to prevent fraying.

Alright! Almost there!

Step Five:
Sew Your Top

Take your 27"x8" rectangle and fold, right sides facing so the short sides meet.

Pin in place.

Sew the short sides with 1/2" seam allowance.

Iron the seam open like this.

Now sew along both sides of the seam like this.
This will help hold the seam open, and you'll be able to feed your drawstring through easily later.

Iron over about 1/2" at the top.

and then another 1 1/2" again.
This will be your channel for the drawstring.

Sew along the bottom all the way around.

Step Six:
Sew It All Together

Slip your top piece, upside-down, over your bottom piece like shown.

Pin in place so your seam for the top piece is lined up with your tick at the center of your bottom piece like this.

Sew your pieces together with 1/2" seam allowance.

And (you guessed it!) serge or zigzag the edges to prevent fraying.

Pop the top up so everything is right side out.

Use a seam ripper to cut the seam in the middle of your channel.

Use a safety pin to feed your drawstring through.

You're done!

I got a few good "action shots"

but then Ben decided that he had bigger fish to fry.

I really enjoyed this one, and I hope that you will too.

And, let's be honest, it always feels good get a little organization mixed into the chaos.


  1. Love the recycled jeans! So sturdy!

  2. those are just so cute and so useful! i always need bags that close up for the kidlets' toys! thanks for the tute! :) lisa

  3. what did you use to mark on the jeans? I'm having a hard time finding anything that works well on them.. and this looks great!

    1. Thanks, Gayle! If a sewing marker doesn't show up for me, I use a sharpie and just cut to the inside. I actually do that a lot when working with darker denim.

  4. I LOVE this idea! What a great project!
    I’m currently writing a series of posts about clothes upcycling item by item. I was wondering if I would be able to include this in one of my posts. I’d just like to use one photo and then add the direct link to this post.
    I also have a clothes upcycling project page, if you would like to link up there. It has a long term linky, so your projects would stay there for more than just the week of a usual linky. We have over 400 projects linked up now – some fantastic ideas.
    Do come and take a look!

  5. My word! This is by far the most repinned pin I have on Pinterest. I couldn't help but drop in and say good job!!

  6. This is a wonderful tutorial! Thank you so much!!! :D

  7. I made one of these for my daughter and it is the best thing to have to put her toys in when we travel. My friends and family keep asking me to make on for their kids. Thank you for this awesome tutorial.

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